St. Lucia's First Annual Food and Rum Festival

A place to reinvent your rum and coke, engorge the belly, and dance it all away.
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Pick Your Poison: One of the intoxicating bars at the festival  (image courtesy, St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival)

“How do you drink your rum?" asked Ian Burrell, a cheery “Rum Ambassador" tending bar at the St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival. “Straight with a slice of lime, or with grapefruit juice, lemon and bitters, or mixed with ginger beer...?"

Yes, I answered, yes.

The first annual St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival, held on October 26 to 29, 2006, is the place to update your rum and Coke. It’s also the venue to challenge your taste buds with haute-eclectic dishes shaped by the Caribbean’s diverse cuisine and colonial influences. Based in Rodney Bay on the island’s northwestern tip, the festival is a flurry of food demos and rum tastings, live bands and star-lit dancing. If you go to bed with any space left in your belly, you should be ashamed.

“St. Lucia is a smorgasbord of all of the different Caribbean islands. It’s like a melting pot, but in a concentrated area," said Allen Chastanet, the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association president who co-founded the event with Neysha Soodeen, managing director of Toute Bagai Publishing. “Rum is also part of the island vibe. It’s in cooking and it’s in drinking. And the music—soca, reggae, Caribbean jazz—is to remind everyone that we’re in the Caribbean."

Throwing a food and rum festival on St. Lucia makes sense. Besides having Chastanet’s backing—the St. Lucian hotelier and businessman also started the St. Lucia Jazz Festival—the West Indies isle is one of the more fertile spits of land in the Caribbean. The lush, green interior is a shag carpet of banana plantations and tropical fruit trees. On the coast, the fishing village of Anse la Raye hosts a fish fry every Friday night, pulling its protein right from its watery front yard. The island is also home to a distillery that produces 25 lines of rum, including Elements 8, a boutique rum that was launched at the festival. To be sure, a visitor could subsist quite nicely on a strictly “Made in St. Lucia" menu.

“The cuisine is now more recognized as an international cuisine," said Orlando Satchell, executive chef at the eco-swank Ladera Hotel, who prepared a five-course meal for the festival, “and the rum balances out the ingredients."

Published: 1 Dec 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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